2020 Debut Author Interview: Kristy Dallas Alley!

In 2019, we made it our goal is to work with as many debut authors as possible and spread the word about their debut novels. It was such a success last year that we decided to continue the fun this year as well! Follow us this year as we pick the minds of the 2020 debuts and chat with them. Also stay tuned for news of giveaways, Twitter chats and more!
At the end of 2019, we Tweeted about wanting to discover more debut authors and their books. We ended up finding Kristy Dallas Alley and her novel THE BALLAD OF AMI MILES, and we have been interested in it ever since. We are so excited to have Kristy on the blog today to answer some of our questions! 

Kristy Dallas Alley

Kristy Dallas Alley is a high school librarian in Memphis, Tennessee, where she lives with her husband, four kids, three cats, and an indeterminate number of fish. She studied creative writing at Rhodes College in another lifetime and holds a Master of Science in Instruction and Curriculum Leadership from the University of Memphis. In an ideal world, she would do nothing but sit on a beach and read every single day of her life, but in reality she's pretty happy reading on her front porch, neglecting the gardens she enthusiastically plants each spring, and cooking huge meals regardless of the number of people around to eat them. 

Keep up with Kristy: Twitter / Instagram / Goodreads

The Book Bratz: First of all, congratulations! How does it feel to be a debut author?
Kristy: Thank you! It feels very exciting and a little surreal! And it feels especially good to be part of such an amazing debut class.
The Book Bratz: In your opinion, what's the best part of the writing process? What's the hardest?
Kristy: For me, the best part is when you have that moment where everything comes together and all the little pieces that have been floating around in your mind finally fall into place. It’s like a switch is flipped and then you know you’re writing a real book. The hardest is the editing process. I went through this cycle of denial/bargaining/acceptance each time I got big picture notes from my editor. (That’s a nice way of saying I threw a little fit and then calmed down and got to work.) It was completely necessary, and it made the book a hundred times better, but it was not fun.

The Book Bratz: Where did you get the inspiration for THE BALLAD OF AMI MILES?
Kristy: The first seed of the idea came from an old abandoned trailer dealership in Alabama that I passed on my way to the beach every summer. I thought it would make a great setting for a post-apocalyptic novel, but I didn’t know what the story would be. I’m talking like a decade of me passing this place once or twice a year, and over time other images started to attach themselves to the idea. I’ve also been interested in old Appalachian ballads since I read Lee Smith’s Fair and Tender Ladies back in college. Eventually those pieces came together to help me frame Ami’s story.

The Book Bratz: Who was your favorite character to write? Who was the most difficult?
Kristy: Jessie was my favorite character to write because come on, who is not in love with Jessie? If you haven’t read it yet, you’ll see what I mean when you do! I just liked having her around whenever it was time to work on her scenes. Ami was the hardest to write because the whole thing is in first person, which means every bit of the narrative had to sound and feel true to her voice, not just dialog but everything. She is very different from me in a lot of ways, but the most crucial difference turned out to be her vocabulary. She’s been raised in a very isolated, controlled environment, even down to what she’s been allowed to read, so I had to be really intentional about only using words that she would realistically know and use while still keeping the language fresh.

The Book Bratz: This book deals with a lot of complex social issues and twists and turns -- how did you keep all of these details together while planning?
Kristy: That’s an interesting question because I’m what’s known in the writing community as a “pantser,” not a “plotter.” That means I do not make outlines or have things all mapped out before I sit down to write. And even as a person, I almost never take notes or make lists or annotate things - I just keep it all in my head (with the exception of my Google calendar – I’m not insane). But I’m actually very organized, and I can keep a lot of plates spinning at once, so I guess that spills over into to the way I write. As for the social issues in the book, they’re so deeply personal to me that I didn’t really have to think about them separately from things like characters and plot. The issues that Ami grapples with are issues I’ve grappled with in my own life, so those ideas are just part of me.

The Book Bratz: What do you hope that readers will take away from THE BALLAD OF AMI MILES?
Kristy: Ultimately, I think this is a story about a girl who is trying to figure out her place in the world and deciding who gets to choose what her life will look like. And I hope that Ami will be one of those characters who stays with the reader for a long time after they finish the book, because that’s how I know when I really love a book and want to recommend it to other people. 

The Book Bratz: Do you plan on returning to the world of THE BALLAD OF AMI MILES in the future, or do you have any other projects in mind? Can you tell us anything about them?
Kristy: I originally thought that I would write a companion book from Jessie’s point of view and call it Jessie’s Song, but I’ve kind of moved away from that idea unless there’s demand for it at some point. The idea I’m working on now is about the gray areas that can exist inside intense female friendships and how difficult it can be not only to set boundaries, but to respect them. 


Title: The Ballad of Ami Miles
Author: Kristy Dallas Alley
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: May 26th, 2020

Summary: Raised in isolation at Heavenly Shepherd, her family’s trailer-dealership-turned-survival compound, Ami Miles knows that she was lucky to be born into a place of safety after the old world ended and the chaos began. But when her grandfather arranges a marriage to a cold-eyed stranger, she realizes that her “destiny” as one of the few females capable of still bearing children isn’t something she’s ready to face. With the help of one of her aunts, she flees the only life she’s ever known, and sets off on a quest to find her long-lost mother (and hopefully a mate of her own choosing). But as she journeys, Ami discovers many new things about the world... and about herself.

Thank you so much to Kristy for stopping by and answering our questions! We are super excited about THE BALLAD OF AMI MILES and can't wait for it to be out in the world on May 26th

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